John Bunyan (1628-1688): His Life, Times, and Work

By Frank Mott Harrison; John Brown | Go to book overview

EDITOR'S PREFACE.

JOHN BUNYAN is a personality still dear to the English-speaking people throughout the world, although three hundred years have elapsed since he first saw the light of day at Elstow. No one would be more surprised than he to know the fame he has attained. That a despised and persecuted tinker from an obscure village should rise to such eminence in the realm of English literature is almost beyond credibility; and yet, in the approaching commemoration of his birth, Bunyan's name will be acclaimed throughout the whole earth by means of written or spoken eulogy. The printing-press is already at work, and anon the aerial will take up the theme. The pens of the great and mighty have been wielded for two and a half centuries in his honour, and they will continue to be wielded so long as the English language exists.

Few authors have indeed had such attention paid to them, and the tributes to Bunyan have oft been quoted; but least frequently, perhaps, what "Arnold of Rugby" has written: "I have left off reading our Divines. ...But if I could find a great man amongst them I would read him thankfully and earnestly. As it is, I hold John Bunyan to have been a man of incomparably greater genius than any of them..." Of The Pilgrim's Progress, Dr. Arnold says: "I have always been struck by its piety: I am now struck equally, or even more by its profound wisdom."

The record of Bunyan's life is remarkable; it is unique; especially when it is considered what he might have been (but for the interposition of GOD) had he simply obeyed the law and so evaded long years of imprisonment. The hand of Divine Providence was in it all; and unwittingly--but not unwillingly--the Dreamer was led on step by step. It would be difficult to say, when reviewing his career three centuries later, which stage of his life could have been omitted without marring the whole.

-i-

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